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Beyond the Data Sheet: Plastic Material Selection for Optimal Performance - 2 Day Course

To be scheduled
Time: 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Location: Akron Polymer Training Center, Akron, OH 44325-5404, U.S.A.
Cost: $1,500 USD
CEU's: 1.6
Instructor: Eric R. Larson

Course Overview

This course presents a methodology for plastic material selection. Using common layman's language, we will translate generic terms about a material's characteristics – such as stiffness, strength, and toughness - into specific technical properties that are relevant – and quantifiable – to the intended application. We will review industry standard tests that are used to quantify these properties, and discuss how to interpret and understand the behavior of the material in the intended application based on the available property data.

Key Topics

Attendees will also be introduced to the world of commodity and engineering plastics. Using case histories and commercial examples, we will explore how these materials are used, and why they are used, and – most important of all – costs (including raw material costs, processing costs, and cost of secondary operations). At the conclusion of this course, attendees will have sufficient knowledge to write a comprehensive material specification for any given application.

Note: while this course is primarily focused on injection molding, the methodology is applicable to most thermoplastic processing technologies, including blow molding, rotational molding, thermoforming, extrusion, et al.

Recommended Attendees

This course is suitable for technical professionals involved in the design and manufacturing of products made from plastic, including designers, engineers, technical managers, and technical sales and marketing staff. A basic understanding of materials is a prerequisite.

Instructor Biography:

Eric R. Larson
Eric R Larson Headshot

Eric R. Larson is a mechanical engineer with over thirty years experience in plastics engineering. A graduate of the University of Michigan, he spent his early career as an Application Engineer for DuPont Engineering Plastics, providing support on plastic part design and material selection.

For the past twenty years, he has worked as a consultant, helping companies bridge the gap between “what if” and “wow.” He has helped bring to market products that are used by people from all walks of life, from boogie boards, water basketball games, and SCUBA diving equipment to disposable lighters, cell phones, and hand-held medical devices. He is founder and Chief Engineer of Art of Mass Production (AMP), an engineering consulting company based in San Diego, California.

Day One - Morning Session: Plastics Engineering

Materials Science Refresher

  • Important Concepts
    • strength of materials
    • stress-strain curves
    • plastic behavior
    • linear vs. non-linear behavior
    • isotropic vs. anistropic
    • plastic yielding and failure
  • Polymer Chemistry
    • monomer
    • polymer (co-polymer, ter-polymer)
    • polymerization
    • thermoset vs. thermoplastic
    • aliphatic vs. aromatic
    • amorphous vs. semi-crystalline
  • Polymer Characterization
    • molecular weight
    • molecular weight distribution
    • melt cycle
    • melt temperature
    • glass transition temperature
    • phase changes/shrinkage
  • Key Mechanical Performance Criteria
    • strength, stiffness, toughness
    • toughness tests
      • IZOD, Charpy, Gardner, etc.
  • Performance Killers
    • temperature
    • chemicals
    • radiation
    • time

Day One - Afternoon Session: The Selection Process

Selecting the Manufacturing Process

  • Key Criteria
    • part size
    • precision and accuracy
    • cost targets
    • production volumes

Selecting Materials

  • Key Criteria
    • Mfg process
    • Cost
    • Performance
    • Property Data vs. End Use
    • performance

Finding/Evaluating Data on Plastic Materials

  • Key Sources
    • resin suppliers
    • compounders/distributors
    • testing labs
    • databases
    • on-line sources

Managing the Material Specification Process

  • Writing a useful specification
  • specifications vs. exclusivity
  • what it should cover (and what it should NOT)
  • when should it be updated?

Day Two

Key Thermoplastic Materials

  • An Overview of Key Plastic Material Families Including:
    • Chemistry
    • Properties
    • Unique Characteristics
    • Costs
    • Real World Applications
  • Commodity Plastics
    • Polyetheylene
    • Polypropylene
    • Polystyrene
    • PVC
    • ABS
  • Engineering Plastics
    • Acetal
    • Nylon (polyamide)
      • 6 nylon, 6/6 nylon, copolymers
    • Polycarbonate
    • Polyesters
      • PBT, PET, PET copolyesters
    • PPO/PPE